Culture

The Planned Parenthood Director’s Own Words Suggest the Group Wants to Profit from Baby Organs

A nine-minute video released by the Center for Medical Progress appears to show Planned Parenthood senior director Dr. Deborah Nucatola discussing the sale of fetal organs from aborted babies. The unabridged footage is here, and the full transcript is here.

The short video is horrifying, but a longer view of the conversation is just as damning — in fact, it’s hard not to get the impression from Nucatola’s words that Planned Parenthood sometimes tries to profit off of the organ sales, which is illegal under federal law.

The abortion group has responded by saying that it is merely getting reimbursements for the costs of tissue donation, but of course, as my colleague David French points out, “we could hardly expect to Planned Parenthood admit to criminal wrongdoing.”

MediaMatters argues that the video is deceptively edited, and Slate’s Amanda Marcotte has already put out an apologia, too.

But parts of the video, in context, suggest that Planned Parenthood is more concerned with perceptions than the law, and is looking to make a buck, too.

From the transcript (emphasis added):

Nucatola: Yeah, you know, I don’t think it’s a reservations issue so much as a perception issue, because I think every provider has had patients who want to donate their tissue, and they absolutely want to accommodate them. They just want to do it in a way that is not perceived as, “This clinic is selling tissue, this clinic is making money off of this.” I know in the Planned Parenthood world they’re very very sensitive to that. And before an affiliate is gonna do that, they need to, obviously, they’re not—some might do it for free—but they want to come to a number that doesn’t look like they’re making money. They want to come to a number that looks like it is a reasonable number for the effort that is allotted on their part. I think with private providers, private clinics, they’ll have much less of a problem with that.

Buyer: Okay, so, when you are, or the affiliate is determining what that monetary—so that it doesn’t create, raising a question of this is what it’s about, this is the main—what price range, would you—?

Nucatola: You know, I would throw a number out, I would say it’s probably anywhere from $30 to $100 [per specimen], depending on the facility and what’s involved. It just has to do with space issues, are you sending someone there who’s going to be doing everything, is there shipping involved, is somebody gonna have to take it out. You know, I think everybody just wants, it’s really just about if anyone were ever to ask them, “What do you do for this $60? How can you justify that? Or are you basically just doing something completely egregious, that you should be doing for free.” So it just needs to be justifiable. And, look, we have 67 affiliates. They all have different practice environments, different staff, and so that number —

Buyer: Did you say 67?

Nucatola: 67.

Buyer: Okay. And so of that number, how much would personality of the personnel in there, would play into it as far as how we’re speaking to them —

PP: I think for affiliates, at the end of the day, they’re a nonprofit, they just don’t want to — they want to break even. And if they can do a little better than break even, and do so in a way that seems reasonable, they’re happy to do that.

It’s possible, as Marcotte contends, that Planned Parenthood is not breaking the law; that Nucatola is describing consensual donations for genuine research purposes; and that the payments she describes constitute reasonable reimbursements for transportation and shipping costs.

#related#But there’s more reason to think clinics may be trying to profit off of this grisly process: A flyer from StemExpress, “a California-based biomedical company that provides qualified research laboratories with human cells, fluids, blood, and tissue products for the pursuit of disease detection and cure,” implores Planned Parenthood clinics to “join the StemExpress partner program,” which it says is “financially profitable,” and “fiscally rewards clinics for contributing to the advancement of life-saving research.”

StemExpress also says that it will provide “financial benefit to your clinic.” By partnering with StemExpress, the flyer says, clinics can not only offer “a way for [their] clients to participate in the unique opportunity to facilitate life-saving research”; they can also contribute to “the fiscal growth of [their] own clinic.”

We won’t know what Planned Parenthood is really up to until the group and its affiliates are investigated, but there’s already good reason to think they’re up to something illegal.

— Isaac Cohen is an intern at National Review.

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